Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Marty Kassman


Detroit television journalist Bradley Stone had a brief stay in jail because he refused to provide a grand jury with a few seconds of videotape. The tape consisted of outtakes from Stone's report on violent teenage gangs. Stone claimed a first amendment right to withhold that tape from the grand jury, which was investigating the murder of a state trooper. This note explores whether there is, and whether there should be, first amendment protection of confidential news sources. The author analyzes the various opinions in the key Supreme Court case on the subject, Branzburg v. Hayes. The note traces the development of reporter's privilege since Branzburg. The author then presents the views of various commentators on the desirability of reporter's privilege. The author concludes that, in every case, the party seeking disclosure by journalists of the identities of confidential news sources should be required to prove that the information is relevant, necessary and not available by other means.